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Eight Men

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Wright's unrelenting bleak landscape was not merely that of the Deep South, or of Chicago, but that of the world, of the human heart," said James Baldwin, and here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright takes readers into this landscape one again. "Eight Men" presents eight stories of black men living at violent odds with the white world around them. As they do in his Wright's unrelenting bleak landscape was not merely that of the Deep South, or of Chicago, but that of the world, of the human heart," said James Baldwin, and here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright takes readers into this landscape one again. "Eight Men" presents eight stories of black men living at violent odds with the white world around them. As they do in his classic novels, the themes here reflect Wright's views on racism and his fascination with what he called "the struggle of the individual in America.


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Wright's unrelenting bleak landscape was not merely that of the Deep South, or of Chicago, but that of the world, of the human heart," said James Baldwin, and here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright takes readers into this landscape one again. "Eight Men" presents eight stories of black men living at violent odds with the white world around them. As they do in his Wright's unrelenting bleak landscape was not merely that of the Deep South, or of Chicago, but that of the world, of the human heart," said James Baldwin, and here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright takes readers into this landscape one again. "Eight Men" presents eight stories of black men living at violent odds with the white world around them. As they do in his classic novels, the themes here reflect Wright's views on racism and his fascination with what he called "the struggle of the individual in America.

30 review for Eight Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hannamari

    First I was appalled by the inevitable-seeming destruction of the protagonists in the end of each short story. Eventually I learned to like the eight cynical and violent stories told through the eyes of a black man trying to survive in the segregated world of white men. I did find the stories a little black and white (in more ways than one) but also eye opening and though provoking. Worth the read definitely.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alicia (PrettyBrownEyeReader)

    This was my first Richard Wright read. I am so glad it was recommended to me. Each short story tells a distinctive story with the common thread being black men.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sentimental Surrealist

    Three more hours left in 2014! What's there to do, what's there to do, but write another book review? Often derided, and in many ways I get why: this is far and away the weakest Wright book I've read so far. That remarkable progression from horror to resistance in the face of racism found in Uncle Tom's Children is missing, and in some ways, it feels like Wright's spinning on his wheels: in terms of using a flood as the jumping-off point for his story, "Long Black Song" beats "The Man Who Saw the Three more hours left in 2014! What's there to do, what's there to do, but write another book review? Often derided, and in many ways I get why: this is far and away the weakest Wright book I've read so far. That remarkable progression from horror to resistance in the face of racism found in Uncle Tom's Children is missing, and in some ways, it feels like Wright's spinning on his wheels: in terms of using a flood as the jumping-off point for his story, "Long Black Song" beats "The Man Who Saw the Flood" senseless, and "Man, God Ain't Like That" repeats the dialog-only trick (twelve years before Gaddis! Complete with narrative entropy!) in the great "Man of All Work," which is in turn a twist on Native Son but removed enough from its obvious source to keep me reading. As for the others? Well, "Big Black Good Man" is funny, which is weird for Wright, I don't even remember "The Man Who Went to Chicago," the first half of "The Man Who Lived Underground" is dull as hell but then it gets cooking, "The Man Who Killed a Shadow" feels like a draft or outline or just something that needs a little more sculpting, and "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" is almost great, but doesn't quite get there. It's also probably the best story here. Draw your own conclusions. The verdict? Decnet, but mainly just for the curious.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Stories in different styles of writing. Each forces you to stop and consider a different point of view - that view being from a black man. It explores racism, and it can be harsh.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sefu Chikelu

    Great book! Excited for this to come out in April. It is very vivid, very descriptive & easy to follow for the most part. Sometimes, it can be *too* descriptive—at times I thought that overly descriptive parts were a precedent for a larger, more meaningful purpose. Most times, this wasn’t the case. I love the fact that there was no explicit city named in the book. I take it as whatever happened to Fred Daniels could happen to any Black person, anywhere in the country. This book reads just like a Great book! Excited for this to come out in April. It is very vivid, very descriptive & easy to follow for the most part. Sometimes, it can be *too* descriptive—at times I thought that overly descriptive parts were a precedent for a larger, more meaningful purpose. Most times, this wasn’t the case. I love the fact that there was no explicit city named in the book. I take it as whatever happened to Fred Daniels could happen to any Black person, anywhere in the country. This book reads just like a Richard Wright novel, and I am very glad to have read it. I see so much of Bigger Thomas (Native Son) in Fred Daniels.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    I don't understand why this collection isn't respected more than it is. Some of the stories might not be as good as some of the others, but some are downright classics. These are masterful stories by a mature, memorable talent. Excellent reading. I don't understand why this collection isn't respected more than it is. Some of the stories might not be as good as some of the others, but some are downright classics. These are masterful stories by a mature, memorable talent. Excellent reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Toby Wraye

    Poignant understanding of the human condition overall and specifically the position and circumstances of Afro-American men and woman.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Torres

    Quite a remarkable book exploring all sorts of stereotypes and experiences behind the veil.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexus Ray

    I read "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" and "The Man Who Killed a Shadow" for my Southern Literature class in college. While I didn't read the entire book, I hope to revisit it one day and read it in it's entirety. As for now, there is just little time and lots to do. "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" was intriguing. It discusses black masculinity and uses non-standard English to make the story more authentic. The non-standard English usage is different than other Southern Lit writers like Faulker, w I read "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" and "The Man Who Killed a Shadow" for my Southern Literature class in college. While I didn't read the entire book, I hope to revisit it one day and read it in it's entirety. As for now, there is just little time and lots to do. "The Man Who Was Almost a Man" was intriguing. It discusses black masculinity and uses non-standard English to make the story more authentic. The non-standard English usage is different than other Southern Lit writers like Faulker, whose characters are marginalized at best. While this story is set in the past, it discusses topics that are still real in our modern world today. Guns, sexuality, and the patriarchal society are just a few to name. "The Man Who Killed a Shadow" is also another complex story in the book. Wright is drawing attention to the way the protagonist in the short story views White Americans. The scenes between Maybelle and Saul are interesting because they display rather different ideas than the typical gender roles myth. I envision Saul acting more like Maybelle and Maybelle acting more like Saul. This story is a wonderful story and all Americans should read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brittany W1114

    Richard Wright is a profound Black author who writes about what being a Black male is like in an overtly racist society (as seen in Native Son and this text). This text begins with the narrator being falsely accused of murdering a white couple and being beaten into submission by the cops that unjustly arrest him. He escapes police custody, only to find the only safe place to escape to is through a manhole cover and down into the underground bowels of the city. Wright perfectly captures the horro Richard Wright is a profound Black author who writes about what being a Black male is like in an overtly racist society (as seen in Native Son and this text). This text begins with the narrator being falsely accused of murdering a white couple and being beaten into submission by the cops that unjustly arrest him. He escapes police custody, only to find the only safe place to escape to is through a manhole cover and down into the underground bowels of the city. Wright perfectly captures the horror, the indignation, the fear that the narrator feels as he is falsely accused of murder. I felt the same suspense that the narrator must have felt as he navigated being arrested, escaping, and disappearing underground. This text deals with themes of race, violence in the form of police brutality, civilized versus savagery, the individual versus society, and visibility (both hypervisibility and invisibility). A downfall of this book would be the lack of clear description; it was difficult for me to envision the underground setting, especially when the narrator was discovering different rooms. Overall, this lack of description made it difficult for me to stay engrossed in this text because I couldn’t visualize the text and therefore wasn’t as immersed as I could have been. I would recommend this book to anyone who read and loved his Native Son and to anyone who is interested in the Black experience (and just how little it seems to have changed 70+ years later). (Read on Net Galley)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I read this to compare the novel and short story versions of "The Man Who Lived Underground". I know this collection is considered lesser Wright, but I found it to be tremendously captivating. The novel version of "The Man Who Lived Underground" is better, but the story version is still very interesting. It, "Man God Ain't Like That" and "The Man Who Killed a Shadow" all feel like fragments of what should have been longer works. "Man of All Work" is a fantastic piece of dark comedy--at turns sen I read this to compare the novel and short story versions of "The Man Who Lived Underground". I know this collection is considered lesser Wright, but I found it to be tremendously captivating. The novel version of "The Man Who Lived Underground" is better, but the story version is still very interesting. It, "Man God Ain't Like That" and "The Man Who Killed a Shadow" all feel like fragments of what should have been longer works. "Man of All Work" is a fantastic piece of dark comedy--at turns sensitive, hilarious, and terrifying. "The Man Who Was Almost a Man", "The Man Who Saw The Flood", and "Big Black Good Man" all feel like parables, and the last in particular feels like it could be a Nathaniel Hawthorne story. And "The Man Who Went to Chicago" is an excellent short memoir. While it's a bit ragged as a collection, it still feels like a very clear articulation of the themes of race and masculinity that run through all of Wright's works.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Juanita

    Review: Eight Men by Richard Wright. 07/22/2017 This is a Classic first published in 1940 about eight Africa American men. There are eight short stories that focus on Black men at violent odds with a white world. The author writes his point of view on racism in our society about Black men in different unusual situations and the stories involve their struggles in life. Each story was selected on Black men involved cruelly with their surroundings and beaten down by society. Each person is one way o Review: Eight Men by Richard Wright. 07/22/2017 This is a Classic first published in 1940 about eight Africa American men. There are eight short stories that focus on Black men at violent odds with a white world. The author writes his point of view on racism in our society about Black men in different unusual situations and the stories involve their struggles in life. Each story was selected on Black men involved cruelly with their surroundings and beaten down by society. Each person is one way or another misunderstood and misinterpreted by the society past and present. The insight is interpreted beautifully with confident, well-proper and honorable written even with occasionally emotional distressed and sorrow. Eight Men is a collection of fairly sad stories that detail the overbearing conditions of Black men in the 1930’s. They were all great stories but four of them are impressive and will be memorable. The book was interesting and educational and is listed on school reading and discussion among the students.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Extremely disappointing collection of mostly mediocre stories, including two (both written entirely in laughably bad dialogue) that were absolutely terrible. Only one or two of the stories moved me at all, and the final story (“The Man Who Went to Chicago”) isn’t even fiction, but a meandering personal essay. I admire Wright’s nonfiction (12 Million Black Voices and Black Boy are both very good), but this is further proof that he really wasn’t a fiction writer.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    The quality of the stories varied. Some were very gripping and well written, others I found a bit too much slapstick (Man of all work) or too elaborate (The man who lived underground). In all stories though, Wright paints a vivid picture. I could clearly see all the characters going through their various struggles. And you really are a great writer when you come to sympathize with a brutal murderer in the space of just a few pages.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    The eight stories in the book are linked by the common theme of Black experience in white America. The stories as I perceived them range from fantasy to insanity to semi-autobiography. The final section added by the publisher provides a year by year chronology of Richard Wright's life and was illuminating and improved my understanding of Wright's writings. The eight stories in the book are linked by the common theme of Black experience in white America. The stories as I perceived them range from fantasy to insanity to semi-autobiography. The final section added by the publisher provides a year by year chronology of Richard Wright's life and was illuminating and improved my understanding of Wright's writings.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eric Susak

    "I had embraced the daily horror of anxiety, of tension, of eternal disquiet" (173). "Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened by fact, by history, by processes, by necessity" (180). "I had embraced the daily horror of anxiety, of tension, of eternal disquiet" (173). "Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened by fact, by history, by processes, by necessity" (180).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mira Prater

    Such great short stories. It's so interesting these stories were written 40 some years ago because these stories of black men are still relevant today. I would love to teach some of these stories to my young, black, male students. Such great short stories. It's so interesting these stories were written 40 some years ago because these stories of black men are still relevant today. I would love to teach some of these stories to my young, black, male students.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    I thought his earlier book of short stories Uncle Tom's Children was much stronger than this collection. This one is quite uneven. I thought his earlier book of short stories Uncle Tom's Children was much stronger than this collection. This one is quite uneven.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stacy-Ann

    The stories in this book were not soo bad, the writing was very good and there were 3 stories that I did love.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Braeden

    There is so much action and movement in Wright’s language.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Ray

    Authentic, powerful and sad… liked it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Abby Soghomonian

    Necessary.

  23. 4 out of 5

    John

    I think The Man who Went to Chicago is one of my favorite short stories of all time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    The foreword to this edition, by Paul Gilroy, sucked really bad--even though Gilroy's intention was to defend these short stories from the critical attacks they have suffered over the years, he began by describing all these attacks in detail...ostensibly in order to deconstruct them...but the ultimate effect was to lower my expectations. Partly as a result, I found the first 7 stories to be pretty ridiculous eye-rollers, where I can imagine I would have taken them more seriously had I skipped Gi The foreword to this edition, by Paul Gilroy, sucked really bad--even though Gilroy's intention was to defend these short stories from the critical attacks they have suffered over the years, he began by describing all these attacks in detail...ostensibly in order to deconstruct them...but the ultimate effect was to lower my expectations. Partly as a result, I found the first 7 stories to be pretty ridiculous eye-rollers, where I can imagine I would have taken them more seriously had I skipped Gilroy's introduction. Good thing Richard Wright is a badass. In the last story, 'The Man Who Went to Chicago,' he redeemed the entire collection with incredibly prescient--and personal--observations on the future character and consequences of race relations in the U.S. I couldn't believe this had been written in 1940. This was the first time since reading 'The Power of the Powerless' on the Chicago El in 2002 that I experienced actual physical elation from a book. Sometimes timing is everything. There were a couple passages in there that spoke directly to the uncertainty and frustration (as well as optimism, I can also admit) I have been feeling in my current flirtations with radical activism. I'm really glad I read this, and at this particular moment.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Ceschini

    As a white male I am destined never to fully understand the struggles of African Americans. Through writers such as Toni Morrison and Richard Wright, I can exercise my empathy. I can try with all of my undeserved privilege to understand trials and tribulations. "The Man Who Lived Underground" is the story of yet another African American stuck in a white world. Pursued by corrupt police, forced into a subterranean existence; forced to watch others go about their lives as if all other planets revo As a white male I am destined never to fully understand the struggles of African Americans. Through writers such as Toni Morrison and Richard Wright, I can exercise my empathy. I can try with all of my undeserved privilege to understand trials and tribulations. "The Man Who Lived Underground" is the story of yet another African American stuck in a white world. Pursued by corrupt police, forced into a subterranean existence; forced to watch others go about their lives as if all other planets revolve around their one sanitized world. Wright evokes the stench of the sewer, and the slime, and the darkness. He and Toni Morrison deliver us their world as is. Hold your white nose if you have to. Turn around and wince if you have to. It won't matter, because their voices cut through even the loudest of dissenters.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Wilson

    I sort of read it. It's a collection of eight short stories about African-American men. I read the first story (good), started the second story (boring), and the last story (really good). I didn't feel compelled to read any more, so I bailed. The last story - "The Man Who Went to Chicago" - is worth reading. Good insight on how Black men were treated, and treated each other, in the early to mid 20th Century and their relationship with different groups of White people. Otherwise, I don't really r I sort of read it. It's a collection of eight short stories about African-American men. I read the first story (good), started the second story (boring), and the last story (really good). I didn't feel compelled to read any more, so I bailed. The last story - "The Man Who Went to Chicago" - is worth reading. Good insight on how Black men were treated, and treated each other, in the early to mid 20th Century and their relationship with different groups of White people. Otherwise, I don't really recommend it. The

  27. 5 out of 5

    J

    (FROM JACKET)Here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright takes readers into this landscape once again. Each of the eight stories in "Eight Men" focuses on a black man at violent odds with a white world, reflecting Wright's views about racism in our society and his fascination with what he called "the struggle of the individual in America." These poignant, gripping stories will captivate all those who loved "Black Boy" and "Native Son" (FROM JACKET)Here, in these powerful stories, Richard Wright takes readers into this landscape once again. Each of the eight stories in "Eight Men" focuses on a black man at violent odds with a white world, reflecting Wright's views about racism in our society and his fascination with what he called "the struggle of the individual in America." These poignant, gripping stories will captivate all those who loved "Black Boy" and "Native Son"

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    An incisive look via fictional (though one is autobiographical) vignettes of black life. Very often, it is painful to read stories such as these to imagine that my ancestors were complicit in this manner of caste system, but it also serves as a reminder that even today persons of color find themselves as lesser citizens due to this historical treatment. Excellent writing with weight and depth from Wright.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stacy Simpson

    I first heard of richard wright in high school literary class. We had to read black boy and give our point of view on it. It was one of the best books I've ever read at that point in time. This book had one possibly two good stories in it but it wasn't good like black boy was. The beginning blurb bored me to no end and I felt it didn't give poor Richard justice. I first heard of richard wright in high school literary class. We had to read black boy and give our point of view on it. It was one of the best books I've ever read at that point in time. This book had one possibly two good stories in it but it wasn't good like black boy was. The beginning blurb bored me to no end and I felt it didn't give poor Richard justice.

  30. 4 out of 5

    MaryAlice

    I am not a fan of short stories, but Richard Wright is an author I admire, so read this book some time ago. I have a quote from one of the stories: The Man Who Went To Chicago: THE MAN WHO WENT TO CHICAGO by Richard Wright "Lying was bad, but revealing my own sense of insecurity would have been worse. It would have been shameful, and I did not like to feel ashamed." I am not a fan of short stories, but Richard Wright is an author I admire, so read this book some time ago. I have a quote from one of the stories: The Man Who Went To Chicago: THE MAN WHO WENT TO CHICAGO by Richard Wright "Lying was bad, but revealing my own sense of insecurity would have been worse. It would have been shameful, and I did not like to feel ashamed."

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